Digital marketing strategy advice

How to save money, keep it simple & avoid the pitfalls

Only 50% of businesses have a digital marketing strategy and although that is probably very good for you, even if you purchase or write one yourself, you can sometimes find it gathering dust in the corner of the office.

This guide will help you understand what a digital marketing strategy is, how to focus on the things that matter and how to save money along the way.  If you are looking for advice on how to hire a digital marketing consultant then please click here for a more detailed analysis of this topic.

Who’s this guide for? Anyone who needs to understand their digital strategy options and be aware of the common issues so they can make informed choices.

What is a digital marketing strategy?

The basics

A digital marketing strategy is effectively a plan your business creates to do the following:

  • Find new visitors to your website using digital marketing and turn those visitors into customers and then repeat customers.
  • Track different digital marketing activities and have a process that can tell you which areas are working and which areas need improvement.
  • Better understand who your “ideal customer” is and what they want from your business to help you better improve your service offerings.
  • Improve your overall sales ratio, meaning reducing the cost of your marketing vs the volume of sales.

Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it sounds, but it can be broken down into a few key areas using something called the R.A.C.E format.

Reach

How are you going to be able to reach (find) your customers online?  There are many ways to do this that you have probably heard of including SEO, Social Media, Video and PPC, but there are much more.

Act

How you can encourage your visitors to take certain actions on your website.  This is normally in the form of turning a prospect (visitor) into a lead.  A lead can be anything from someone calling you, emailing you, or acquiring their email address in exchange for free advice (otherwise known as a lead magnet).

Convert

This is about converting your leads into sales and improving the entire process to make it deliver a higher sales ratio.  This includes using analytics tools to understand your customer behaviour online and testing different approaches that increase sales.

Engage

Selling once is never enough, so this section is about how you can increase customer loyalty by engaging with your customers. Also how your customers can help you get more business through understanding what the driving factors towards their purchase were.

In addition, you are looking for a chosen selection of your customers to preach positively about your company so part of your engagement plan would include motivating and empowering this group.

The only difference between the two is that a digital marketing strategy is exclusively online.
Your ideal customer is the type of person who is most likely to want your product or service.  Fundamentally the person that is most likely to buy.  You can categories your “ideal customer” in a number of ways, including demographic (age, gender, income etc.) or psychographic (their personality types, preferences etc.)

The golden rules

Not many of us have thousands of pounds to spend on a digital strategy so these are the key areas you should be focusing on.

1

Research your competitors like a nutter

If you are a start-up or small business and you have an established competitor that has obviously spent a lot on their website and marketing, then you can save thousands of pounds in research by replicating the most successful strategies at the design stage of your business.

Competitor analysis reports come in many forms and below is a list of the most useful. Your digital marketing agency should be able to set them up for you:

  • Website competitive analysis – Understand what your competitors do on their website and find ways to do it better and more cost-effectively.
  • Industry competitive analysis (general) – Understand where your competitors market online and find similar opportunities for your business.
  • Social media competitive analysis report (specific) – Understand how active your competitors are on Facebook and also analyse which type of Facebook marketing has been the most effective for your competitor.
  • Email marketing competitive analysis report (specific) – Track your competitor’s email marketing, understanding the best frequency, subject lines and best industry practices.
  • Display ads awareness reports (specific) – Track your competitor’s adverts online to see which ones are viewed the most and have the greatest exposure.
  • SEO competitive analysis report (specific) – Understand where your competitors are focusing their SEO efforts, how much traffic they are generating from each keyword and how much investment they have put in to achieve those rankings.
  • PPC competitive analysis report (specific) – Understand where your competitors are focusing their PPC efforts, how much traffic they are generating from each keyword and how much money they spend on a monthly basis.
Remember. You do not want to replicate bad practices.

2

Have a clear plan with set goals

Your digital marketing strategy does not need to rival ‘War and Peace’ in size. In fact, you are more likely to follow your strategy if it is kept as simple as possible with clear guidelines to follow.

When starting out in digital marketing try to choose just one form of R.A.C.E (SEO, Social Media, PPC, Video etc.), then spend the remaining budget you have on advertising, tracking and improvements.

Digital marketing is fundamentally confusing and highly technical, so it is incredibly easy to believe that you need so many more things added to your marketing than you actually do.

There is nothing wrong with having a very clear plan, trying to hit a certain goal and then moving on from there.  You cannot fly into flying.

Good digital marketing goals mainly include turning your visitors into leads.  So if you have a way of tracking the volume of additional leads either through enquiries, email subscriptions, or calls then that is a good place to start.

Do not have goals like an additional 2,000 visitors to your website.  This does not help your business in any way as you are not focusing on getting the right type of visitor to your website that can lead to a sale.

3

Stick with it

Spending money on digital marketing is expensive and when (as in most cases) you don’t get the results you were hoping to get, do not just give up.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and unfortunately, digital marketing is exactly the same.  There is not one person that has managed to nail digital marketing for a business on their first try, so make sure you stick with it.

If you have spent money on tracking, then you are in a strong position to test and evaluate the reasons why your marketing has not proven successful this time.  So consider this as a process, not a quick solution.

One of the greatest benefits to digital marketing, other than reach, is that you can track how your customers engage with your marketing and make improvements based on that data.

Digital marketing is probably one of the only forms of marketing whereby the digital marketer is completely accountable for the work that they do.

The most popular tracking software to use is Google Analytics but there are a number of other tracking tools that are easier to understand and provide much clearer insight.

4

Find your “ideal customer”

Many large companies spend an enormous amount of time and resources creating an ideal customer profile, but fundamentally this can be something you can do quite simply using your tracking tools (example – Google Analytics).

If you have set up your tracking properly, you should be able to tell the type of customers that are turning from visitors into leads and leads into sales.

The benefit of understanding your ideal customer is because you can improve your sales ratio by targeting your marketing towards your ideal customer and no one else.

Many forms of marketing benefit from customer profiling which include PPC (pay per click), Linkedin and Facebook.

How to understand who your ideal customer is and what similarities they have

You can define your customers with the following criteria:

  • Demographics – their age, gender, income, etc.
  • Psychographics – their personality type, preferences, etc.
  • Behaviour – their similar likes and dislikes, sports, hobbies, etc.

B2B companies should also note characteristics of your ideal businesses to work with, including:

  • # of employees
  • Revenue
  • Geographic scope
  • Type of business
  • Decision-making
  • Budget

5

If you are low on budget, invest in being a thought leader

If you have ever read any self-improvement books, then the running theme is always to “invest in yourself” and other people will be drawn to you.  This, rather ironically, can be the same for your online business.

When we say invest in being a thought leader, for this example, we are not talking about participating in conferences.  We are referring to creating content on your website, which in time can be an important resource for a particular aspect of your industry.

You may hear a lot about the importance of being a thought leader and in most cases, it can be singularly the best decision your business makes.

Try to create regular content and spend time each week or month to improve your website, so it becomes an important, informative resource.

It’s about gaining trust.  When a customer visits your website they are able to understand what your business stands for and what you specialise in.  This, in turn, will lead to more sales.

6

Focus on credibility and pain points

Credibility is another way of saying “social proof”.  It is just human nature to be more attracted to a product or service if you know that other people (preferably similar to you) have used it before and loved it or you are recommended by a valued source.

If you have these elements already, then add them to your website. If you don’t, then during the build, try to work with your designer and marketer to get them to integrate it into your design.

Companies such as www.reviews.co.uk offer a way of asking your customers for a review that will give you a star rating on marketing opportunities like AdWords or even in your Google rankings.

With pain points, we are referring to the things that customers really need to see to feel comfortable buying from you.  An example of this would be if you sold online jewellery, then one pain point would be if you did not have a return policy clearly labelled.

Have a look at your competitors to see what pain points they have included and try to add them into your strategy.

7

Try to differentiate yourself

When you perform a business plan or indeed a marketing strategy, you will more than likely do a S.W.O.T Analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).

In your strengths section, think about how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and label those as your unique selling points (USP’s).

Your USP’s must be unique (although that sounds obvious), they must grab people’s attention and they must not be easily copied.

If you have no differentiator, invent one!

By focusing on differentiating your business, you make your marketing life so much easier.  You ensure that the people who visit your website do so because they like what you do better than your competitors.

This approach can achieve a much stronger sales ratio as the visitors drawn in by your USP will be more inclined to buy.

8

Focus on creating a sales funnel

A sales funnel (also known as a revenue funnel) refers to the buying process that companies lead customers through when purchasing products.

There are many stages to a sales funnel, but fundamentally it’s the same as R.A.C.E but without the E (engage).

What you are trying to do is create a strategy whereby you know what each stage entails (reach, act, and convert) with information on how you can monitor and improve the funnel in the future.

Again, this does not have to be overly complicated but make sure you speak to your digital marketing agency about creating a sales funnel that can be easily tracked.